BEING out of a job for 18 months, Charlene Grimmond lost hope, especially as she was busying herself trying to make ends meet in the raging Coronavirus pandemic last year. But it was an advertisement by the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security that had a life-changing effect.
Grimmond, a wife and mother of two who also cares for foster children, reflected on the experience recently during the launch of the country’s first ever business incubator for women at the Guyana Women Leadership Institute, Cove and John, East Coast Demerara.
In moving remarks, Grimmond spoke about the reason she was welcoming the new initiative, calling attention to the remarkable vision demonstrated by subject minister, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, who started the cottage industry and allowed her to realise her dream of becoming her own boss.
Even as Grimmond was a procurement officer for many years, she always harboured the desire to start up her own business; especially, embracing the sewing skill that she had. So when Minister Persaud called for persons to sew masks to supply various agencies, Grimmond took advantage of the much-needed opportunity.
Thus came ‘Natasha’s Concepts’, her small business that started right in her living room. “I filled out an application, received a call from the ministry and submitted as many masks as I could.” It was as simple as that.
Grimmond later benefitted from training by the ministry and said the information shared by Senior Training Officer, Sanjay Pooran, and others significantly impacted her.
Aneesa Khanoo, who was also a part of the cottage industry in August 2020, shared her story as well. The training and other practical assistance that were provided allowed her to start up her own printery business.
Khanoo, too, spoke well about the training she received and noted how it helped her to get her business registered and fully compliant. Today, she couldn’t be happier at being a small business supplier to government.
The Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN), another brainchild of Minister Persaud that was launched recently, has also been helping hundreds of women; training them in various skills and providing them with certified courses that are accredited.
Vanessa Mayers is a WIIN student who also shared her experience at the event, sharing that she wished her course in care for the elderly had lasted longer. “My experience was wonderful and I enjoyed every moment,” she said.
She reflected on how she was able to network with other women and how she truly benefitted from the experience and knowledge in elderly care. She said the training was well organised and that she was very grateful for the opportunity.
Like Mayers, more than 500 women and girls have already been training under the WIIN programme, and more than 4,000 will receive their training before the end of this year. Once the training is completed, the ministry wants the entrepreneurs to make use of the incubator facility to ‘start up’ businesses with the skills they would’ve acquired through WIIN.